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Mikko Rantanen breaks par to win 2018 Speedgolf World Championships (Winning WITB)

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This year’s Speedgolf World Championships, held on the Shenedoah Course at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, wrapped Oct. 16 — and a major record was finally broken.

But before we get to the results, a bit about the sport. Speedgolf, as you may remember (or may never have known), is much like regular golf except you are trying to complete the round as quickly as possible on foot. Your speedgolf score is your golf score plus the time it takes you to finish. For example, if you shoot 80 in 60 minutes, your speedgolf score is 80 + 60 = 140.

There are only a few minor rules differences.

First, you are allowed to leave the flagstick in, which will also actually become an option in regular golf in 2019. Second, in the case of a lost ball, you are allowed to drop in the vicinity of where the ball was lost. This is because it was thought to be too penal in speedgolf to not only lose the stroke from the lost ball but also lose the time running back to where you played your last shot (plus it might be dangerous if there is another player coming up behind you). Third, you can only bring a maximum of seven clubs instead of the usual 14.

Strategies continue to evolve and improve.

Bags, if taken, are usually smaller “Sunday” type bags from a variety of manufacturers but sometimes even homemade. To save time, some players have gotten quite good at 1-handed putting. They hold their bag or clubs in one hand and putt with the other hand.

If you are a fast distance runner like Olympians Bernard Lagat or Nick Willis, running will obviously be your strength and perhaps it’s better to take fewer clubs to take advantage of your speed. In fact, I’ve seen one guy only take a single bladed 6-iron. To hit it farther he puts the ball back in his stance and he delofts the club face more like that of a 3-iron. Around the green, since the sole is thinner, he can open the club face quite a bit, squat down, and pop the ball up almost like a flop shot. To roll his putts, he just catches the ball slightly above the equator using the leading edge and an ascending stroke.

Others like myself aren’t as strong at running but have played golf professionally, so we might take a little more time on our shots, clip our golf bags on a belt hook and putt two-handed, and use six or seven clubs to focus on shooting a good golf score. This year I used a driver (to take advantage of my distance), a 3-wood (to make sure I could reach par 5s in two shots), three of my Sterling Irons® single length irons (the 6-iron, the 9-iron, and the gap wedge), and my putter.

Rain gloves are fairly standard since you get so sweaty and don’t want the clubs slipping out of your hands while swinging. Shoes are often running shoes or lightweight trail running shoes.

Despite what you might think, even with a maximum of seven clubs and playing shots at an elevated heart rate, scoring isn’t all that much different from what you might shoot in regular golf. In fact, some people even play better in part because you don’t start over thinking shots and you play more instinctively in a reactionary manner.

Up to this point at the World Championships, we’ve had five people shoot par 72 in under an hour…myself, Christopher Smith, Scott Dawley, Gretchen Johnson, and Jaime Young.

I knew I was going in to this year’s World Championships out of shape, so I wasn’t expecting much from the running standpoint. However, my golf game was okay and I shot 72 in my practice round, which included a triple bogey. So, going for that golf scoring record was obviously on my mind. Alas, it wasn’t my year…but the record was still meant to be broken this year.

Now, on to the results: With an amazing round of 71 in 55 minutes and 28 seconds, Mikko Rantanen of Finland pulled off speedgolf’s version of Roger Bannister and the four-minute mile by breaking the par mark that many of us had been stuck on for years.

In his bag, Mikko had the following six clubs:

  • Titleist 915 D3 driver – 9.5 degrees
  • Titlest 917 F2 fairway wood – 15 degrees
  • Titleist AP 2 6-iron
  • Titleist 716 CB 9-iron
  • Titleist Vokey 52-degree sand wedge
  • Maxfli Tad Moore putter

He also used a Titleist ProV1x and wore Salomon trail running shoes.

Mikko said he was inspired to break par in speedgolf for the first time by Chris Benians of England, who shot a 69 (-3) in 49 minutes and 16 seconds two days prior at Rome Country Club in Rome, New York, as part of the 2018 US Speedgolf Championships.

Jamie Reid(a) of New Zealand ran the event’s fastest time with a blistering 47 minutes and 29 seconds. We have seen faster times in previous World Championships, however, much like the World Long Drive Championships, the course and conditions of the day come in to play. This year’s Shenedoah Course at Turning Stone Resort & Casino played to around 5.3 miles which included 1.9 miles of some quite long transitions between holes. We also faced lots of rain and a water-logged course. As such, times were a bit slower at this venue than in previous years.

Two-time World Champion Rob Hogan of Ireland remains the only man to break 40 minutes at the World Championships.

Lauren Cupp of New York won the women’s division with an 86 in 66 minutes and 34 seconds.
Mark Le Compte of New Zealand was the 25-49 age group division with an 84 in 59 minutes and 28 seconds.

Larry Levinson won the 50+ age group with an 81 in 69 minutes and 12 seconds.

The inaugural ISGA World Cup (a team event) was held the day after the World Championships. The Team USA duo of Steve Vancil (who played in the PGA TOUR’s Buick Open) and Eri Crum (who won the 2014 Speedgolf World Championships and was a Stanford University college golf teammate of Tiger Woods) took 1st place and the gold medal.

For full field results and to learn about speedgolf leagues in your area, click here.

 

Photo Credit: Kirstin Bull | Speedgolf USA

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Jaacob Bowden is a Professional Golfer, PGA of America Class A Member, Top 100 Most Popular Teacher, Swing Speed Trainer, the original founder of Swing Man Golf, the co-creator of "Sterling Irons" single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS. Formerly an average-length hitting 14-handicap computer engineer, Jaacob quit his job, took his savings and moved from Kansas to California to pursue a golf career at age 27. He has since won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, won multiple qualifiers for the World Long Drive Championships including a 421-yard grid record drive, made cuts in numerous tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s, and finished fifth at the Speed Golf World Championships at Bandon Dunes. Jaacob also holds the championship record for golf score with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using only 6 clubs. The Swing Man Golf website has more than 8,000 members and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s website members and amateur and tour player clients will pick up 12-16 mph of driver swing speed in the first 30 days of basic speed training. You can learn more about Jaacob, Swing Man Golf, and Sterling Irons here: Websites – JaacobBowden.com & SwingManGolf.com & SterlingIrons.com; Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons; Facebook – Facebook.com/JaacobBowdenGolf & Facebook.com/SwingManGolf & <Facebook.com/SterlingIronsGolf; Instagram - Instagram.com/JaacobBowden YouTube – YouTube.com/SwingManGolf – More than 2.8 million video views

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. AJ2019

    Feb 8, 2019 at 9:27 am

    Mikko Rantanen was a very good College player. He played for Georgia Tech alongside David Duval, Stewart Cink and Carlos Beautell. All American in 1993 and loads of other merits as an amateur. Could sadly not quite follow it up as a pro.

  2. Vas

    Oct 24, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Less than zero interest in speed golf personally, but whatever floats your boat. Jaacob – your writing and take on how you improve swing speeds is top notch. Appreciate it!

  3. Mikko

    Oct 24, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Does he also play for the Colorado Avalanche, or is the name “Mikko Rantanen” like “Mike Smith” over in Finland?

  4. Cons

    Oct 24, 2018 at 1:13 pm

    Gave this a go last night after reading this. 60 minutes and 38 shots to complete 9 with a full bag. Walked fast up until the last 3 holes when I knew I had to pick it up and run to make it under my goal of 1 hour. It diluted the golf a little bit, but from a fitness standpoint it was legit. Way more fun than a treadmill. Also great to get your golf mind in a new arena with the blood pumping and need to think fast. Would love to carry 4-5 clubs in hand with some running shoes next time.

  5. Jani

    Oct 24, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Here’s Mikko in action earlier this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXxm-DvTf8Q

  6. joe

    Oct 23, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    I think this is cool. Hitting a fairway wood off the deck with elevated heart rate is REAL. A true test.

  7. Jamie

    Oct 23, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Wonder who would do best on the PGA Tour. Let’s see how good they really are.

  8. HKO

    Oct 23, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    gotta make this regular on all the muni courses over wknd.

  9. allan

    Oct 23, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Yes… this is the way to play young men’s/women’s golf…. run and hit/putt!!!
    To quicken the pace of play eliminate putting and just measure closest to the hole…. and off you go.

    • allan

      Oct 23, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      During twilight I played solo golf carrying a 7-iron + putter + two pocketfuls of pond balls… or a 6-iron and a SW to hit and putt. I have a great short game now but the driver still eludes me.

    • allan

      Oct 23, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Play twilight solo golf with 7-iron + putter + a pocketfuls of balls… or a 6-iron and a SW only. I have a great short game now but the driver still eludes me.

  10. allan

    Oct 23, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Yes… this is the way to play young men’s/women’s golf…. run and hit/putt!!!
    Many an evening during twilight golf I played solo golf carrying a 7-iron + putter + two pocketfuls of pond balls… or a 6-iron and a SW to hit and putt. I have a great short game now but the driver still eludes me.

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Tour Rundown

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@asiapacgolfgrp

Only two of the world’s featured tours were in action this week, but the golf that they provided was memorable and historic. Not the type of historic that you find in school books, but certainly the type that golf aficionados point to, down the road. On the one hand, a prodigious yet poliarizing talent demonstrated complete control down the stretch, during his march to a 2nd World Golf Championship victory. On the other, a precocious competitor joined into a talented triumvirate with a marvelous birdie at the last, to secure an inaugural PGA Tour championship.Tuesday Tour Rundown is back, for this week only!

WGC-Mexico flies away in the hands of Patrick Reed 

Golf Twitter, depending on your perspective, is either entertaining or inflamatory. As happens in the world today, people take sides. In the case of Patrick Reed, that’s not difficult. One either forgives (or denies) Reed’s free interpretation (on multiple occasions) of the rules and their enforcement, or one preserves a disregard for a leading player who simply doesn’t act like one. What isn’t up for debate, is Reed’s seizure of this week’s World Golf Championship in Mexico. What looked for so long like a Bryson-DeChambaeau win, ultimately stowed away in Patrick Reed’s check-on pouch.

The tournament came down to the aforementioned duo. Both Jon Rahm and Erik Van Rooyen swam along the margin, but neither made enough of a Sunday move to figure in the outcome. Both, in fact, tied for 3rd place, 2 back of DeChambeau and 3 behind the champion. Bryson and his on-display muscles barged out of the 10th-hole gate like a man (and muscles) on a mission. Birdies at 4 of the first 5 holes on the inward half, staked him to a 2-shot advantage. Over the closing four, however, the magic went away, and a bogey at the penultimate hole brought him back to 17-under par.

Reed looked like a man playing for second. His long game was nothing exceptional, but his putter kept him afloat, time and again. And then, whatever DeChambeau had in his water bottle, came over to Reed. Birdies at 15, 16 and 17 suddenly brought the 2-shot advantage to the 2018 Masters champion. Even the cough of an expectorant fan, mid-backswing on the 18th, was not enough to convulse the champion. A closing bogey made the margin closer than it was, and Reed jumped from 33rd to 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.

PGA Tour Puerto Rico is Viktor Hovland’s debut decision

It wasn’t as mauling as Tyson Fury’s technical decision over Deontay Wilder, but Viktor Hovland and Josh Teater came down the stretch in Puerto Rico, like a pair of pugilists. The young Norwegian, Hovland, was pitted against the career grinder, Teater. First it was the veteran, with 3 birdies on the opening nine, to reach minus-19. Hovland chipped away, with a birdie at 5, and a 2nd at 10. And then, Teater hit Hovland with a right-cross (or Hovland hit himself with a sucker punch; you make the call.) Triple bogey! A startling six at the 11th, dropped Hovland into a tie with Teater (bogeys of his own on 10 and 11) who now had new life … and new pressure.

To his credit, Teater didn’t back down. He made birdies at 15 and 17, to recoup the lost shots at the turn. Unfortunately for him, tour victory the first would have to wait. Hovland, the Oklahoma State alumnus, made a sensational eagle at the 15th, to counter Teater’s birdie, and reclaim the advantage. The pair reached the 18th tee, a par five, all square, and it was there that Hovland dealt the final thrust. He took every bit of break out of a 25-feet birdie putt, and banged it into the hole. With the win, Hovland joined Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa as anticipated winners who actually won. Now comes the hard part: winning again and reaching a new echelon of champion.

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Morning 9: Bamberger on Reed | Courage Award for M. Hoff | Ogilvy on “dumbed down” golf

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1. Hard to root for
Doesn’t seem like Michael Bamberger will be buying a Patrick Reed jersey anytime soon… Points worth reading from one of the most prominent voices in the game, however…
  • “…Reed, among others, has treated the incident as no big deal. I think it is. I have talked to World Golf Hall of Famers who feel the same way. They feel that Reed did nothing to make golf better on that Friday afternoon in early December, but in fact did the opposite. Golf took a step that day in the direction of the NBA, the NFL, MLB. A step toward catch me if you can. Golf with that as its prevailing ethos would be a different game.”
  • “…My view (this space is reserved for columnizing) is that Reed has to earn back my trust. That stance is not based on anything that happened with his parents years ago (he is estranged from them) or when he attended the University of Georgia, where he was thrown off the golf team for various incidents. It’s not because of his over-the-top body language while helping the U.S. win the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and it’s not because of his inane remarks about his pairings after the U.S. loss at the 2018 Ryder Cup in France.”
2. Courage Award; what’s next for Morgan Hoffmann
PGATour.com’s Helen Ross…“On Monday, Hoffman became the fourth recipient of the PGA TOUR Courage Award, joining Erik Compton (2013), Jarrod Lyle (2015) and Gene Sauers (2017). The award is presented to a player who, through courage and perseverance, has overcome adversity to make a meaningful contribution to the game.”
  • “It was really a shock and something that is obviously very special with the past recipients and how much they have done and what they have been rewarded for,” Morgan says. “And to be a part of that is very humbling, but obviously it’s a situation that you don’t want to be in.
  • “But I’m accepting it with as much gratitude as I can and hopefully, I can really help our foundation and make a change in people’s lives.”
3. The only critic he pays attention to
Golf Digest’s Brian Wacker…”Even his victory on Sunday was a reminder of controversies past. In 2014, Reed won the same tournament when it was played at Trump Doral in Miami. That year, in a taped interview with NBC that aired during the final round, Reed declared himself a top-five player in the world, a remark that came off as cocky and was generally not well-received, considering Reed was just 23 at the time, hadn’t played in a major yet and had started the week ranked 44th in the world.”
  • “Since then, Reed has racked up several notable wins, including his 2018 Masters triumph…When this latest controversy will wash away, who knows. In the meantime, Reed is now up to No. 8 in the world after his latest victory over a world-class field.”
  • “I think the biggest thing is, I’ve grown as a player,” he said. “I’ve not allowed too many things to bother me, the highs and lows in golf, especially through a round of golf.”
4. Final USO qualifying sites announced
The Golf Channel Digital team…”The USGA announced Monday the list of 12 final qualifying sites, the venues whereby approximately half the field will punch their ticket to this summer’s U.S. Open. After conducting 109 local, 18-hole qualifiers from late April to early May, the USGA will turn their attention to a dozen 36-hole qualifiers held across four different countries.”
  • “Several final (previously sectional) qualifying sites are familiar, and for the second year in a row there will be a qualifier held in Canada ahead of the RBC Canadian Open. But two courses are hosting final qualifiers for the first time: Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon and The Club at Admiral’s Cove in Florida.”
5. “Dumbed me down”
Remarks from Geoff Ogilvy on playing the modern game…”Questions like, “should I hit a big slice here?” or “should I just lay-up short of that pond?” hardly ever enter my head these days. Just about every time I have a perfect club in my bag for the shot I am faced with. I just dial it in and hit it. All of which does, of course lead to better results for me as a professional. But I can’t help feeling it has “dumbed me down” as a golfer.”
  • “Another example: I am way better out of sand now than I was when I was, say, two. By far. But I’m only better hitting ‘Tour’ bunker shots. On Tour we have similar sand just about every week. The greens are similar every week. So I became really, really good at that shot. But that is a much narrower band of shots than I grew up playing in Melbourne. There, the bunkers vary from course to course. And, playing amateur tournaments all over the place, I was faced with wildly different conditions just about every time out.”
6. WAPA moves dates
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…“The R&A announced last Friday that it has rescheduled the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship for Oct. 7-10 at Siam Country Club in Pattaya, Thailand.”
  • “The event was originally scheduled Feb. 12-15 but postponed as a result of the continued outbreak of coronavirus.”
  • “We will continue to monitor the situation and liaise with the authorities to ensure we can stage the championship safely in October. We are looking forward to a successful week of golf and crowning the 2020 champion,” Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said in a statement.” 
7. Women’s Golf Day returns
Our Gianni Magliocco…“Women’s Golf Day in 2020 looks set to be a record-breaking year, and for clubs signing up before March 1st, they can now avail of free location registration for the event which takes place on June 2, 2020.”
  • “A dedicated day to celebrate the female golf game, in 2019 Women’s Golf Day saw more than 900 events taking place in a whopping 52 countries.”
  • “With more locations and people participation planned for the 2020 event, the team behind WGD is offering free location registration with code VIP2020 to anyone signing up before March 1st.”
  • “Along with a new website, for 2020 the celebration is set to have an even greater global reach with WGD now taking place in all continents across the world, with different events also being arranged for the run-up to the main event.”

 

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Morning 9: Shh… | Hovland breaks through | PGL CEO speaks | Greatest putt ever?

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1. “Shhhhhh…”
Steve DiMeglio for Golfweek writes this regarding Patrick Reed’s WGC win…”A week that began with more biting criticism about his escapade in the sand in the Bahamas last December ended with an emphatic response from Patrick Reed.”
  • “Reed blocked out all the noise, deflected the condemnations and accusations of cheating and then stormed from behind during a tense back nine Sunday to win the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec.”
  • “En route to his second WGC title and eighth PGA Tour victory, the 2018 Masters champion shot rounds of 69-63-67-67 to finish at 18 under and one shot clear of Bryson DeChambeau. Reed scrambled for a finishing bogey after driving it into the trees and two-putted from 34 feet for the win.”
2. Hovland breaks through
AP report…”Viktor Hovland rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to capture his maiden PGA Tour victory in dramatic fashion at the Puerto Rico Open.”
  • “Hovland started the day with a one-shot lead, and at one point he built a three-shot advantage midway through the round. But after overcoming an ill-timed triple bogey, he was facing the prospect of a playoff with journeyman Josh Teater as he played the par-5 closing hole.”
  • “After his wedge came up short as rain fell in Rio Grande, the 22-year-old buried the birdie putt to finish the week at 20 under after a final-round 70 and polish off a breakthrough win.”
3. PGL CEO speaks
Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio reporting…”Andrew Gardiner, the league’s CEO, is the voice behind the league and he spoke for 90 minutes on the British-based golf show podcast hosted by Rick Shiels.”
  • “Gardiner, a London-based director at Barclays Capital, said the Premier Golf League would run from January through August and consist of 12 four-man teams, with Gardiner saying the owner or the leader of each team would pick two players to count for the team score prior the start of the first round.”
  • “Players would be required to play all 18 events, with each featuring 54 holes, shotgun starts, no cut and no dress code. Each of the first 17 events would have a $10 million purse, with the season-ending playoff tournament boasting a $40 million purse. An individual champion will also be crowned in the final event.”
  • “The goal is for the league to begin in 2022.”
4. PGL short on substance?
Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch…”For all the attention Premier Golf League has garnered, it’s still little more than spitballs against a whiteboard. There’s the promise of financing, but no hard assets. No players. No tournaments. No infrastructure. McIlroy’s stiff-arming isn’t quite a fatal blow – he admitted that if everyone else jumps then he’ll have to follow – but having the world No. 1 say he’ll join only at gunpoint doesn’t much recommend it to his peers. Guys like Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose have teased interest, but they are players who don’t have the longest competitive runway ahead of them.”
  • “To be viable, PGL needs commitments from multiple younger stars, and the biggest star in that constellation just said no. Six years after it was conceived, Premier Golf League is all promise, no delivery.”
  • “That PGL has lingered for so long speaks to the depthless focus on finances among some players and agents, but also to how urgently the PGA Tour needs a reckoning with its own reality. Because even Woods predicts this will not be the last renegade challenge the Tour faces.”
5. Ignoring the noise
ESPN’s Bob Harig…”The noise, at times, can be deafening, deflating. It is certainly distracting. Patrick Reed admits as much because it would be nearly impossible to say or do otherwise.”
  • “And so it was that Reed had not one, but two grenades tossed his way this week in the wake of Sandy-gate in the Bahamas, the “cheating” scandal that continues to dog him.
  • “For reasons of his own making, that controversy lingers, but Reed thrives amid chaos. We’ve seen it at the Ryder Cup and throughout the last few months as he’s endured his share of taunting and jeers, from spectators, fellow competitors and commentators.”
6. “I just suck at chipping”
Candor from the young man from Norway! Hovland found himself unwittingly playing the part of a 20-handicapper on the par-3 11th hole at the Puerto Rico Open…
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…”Hovland chunked a chip shot from near the cart path, then failed to reach the green again with his third. It added up to a triple bogey which erased his advantage and put his tournament chances in peril.”
  • “Hovland ranks 230th on Tour this season in strokes gained: around the green, and he didn’t mince any words when asked about what went wrong on No. 11.”
  • “I just suck at chipping,” Hovland said. “I definitely need to work on my short game, and I was 100 percent exposed there on that hole.”
7. A show for the home crowd
Cameron Morfit for PGATour.com on the two Mexicans who teed it up at the WGC-Mexico…”Meanwhile, Abraham Ancer, who grew up in Mexico and Texas and was the breakout star of the Presidents Cup in December, also shot a final-round 68 to finish 9 under (T12).”
  • “The previous best finish by a Mexican player here was Ancer’s T39 last year.”
  • “It was a very fun week,” Ancer said. “I think I left a couple of birdies out there, but my game was quite solid. I hit it very well from the tee, and I’ve got a couple of notes on things to improve for next year, but I’m happy. Each year I’ve been able to get a little better.”
  • “The highlight Sunday for Ancer: stuffing his tee shot to within tap-in range at the par-3 17th, where fans chanted his nickname (Turco, or Turk) as he walked to the green.”
8. Headed for Augusta National
Golfweek’s Adam Woodard…”In 46 days, the eyes of the golf world will be on Augusta National for the Masters, where van Rooyen will compete for the first time. He qualified for the Masters by finishing inside the top 50 of the final OWGR last year.”
  • “As a freshman in college in 2009 at Minnesota, the Golden Gophers played in Augusta State’s tournament, held the weekend before the Masters. Van Rooyen and his Minnesota teammates got tickets to Monday’s practice round.”
  • “I remember Tiger was warming up with Fred Couples, Trevor Immelman was on the range, and I guess you go see some iconic holes, No. 1, walked a few holes, and then went to Amen Corner,” recalled van Rooyen after Friday’s round in Mexico City. “Thirteen is a much bigger dogleg than what it seems on TV, and then we just kind of spent some time there, bought a little bit of merchandise, as everybody does, and yeah, just kind of tried to soak it in.”
9. Move over, Bobby Locke! 
Woodard again…”86-year-old Mary Ann Wakefield…[made] one of the most impressive putts you’ll ever see from the full length of a college basketball court.
  • “During the Ole Miss men’s basketball game against Alabama on Saturday night as part of the Cannon Motors of Mississippi Putt for a Car challenge, Wakefield had a 94-foot putt on hardwood to win a new 2020 Nissan Altima.”
  • “She absolutely buried it, dead center.”

 

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